Twitch Walks Back Controversial Ad Rules

Twitch is reversing it newly announced rules concerning the way streamers could display ads on the platform after swift backlash from streamers and content creators, The Verge reported.

On Tuesday, Twitch released new rules concerning the way streamers could display ads on the platform. The rules prohibited “burned in” video, display, and audio ads – the first two of which were popular and common formats used throughout Twitch. Twitch apparently did not discuss the new rules with ambassadors or streamers beforehand, and many were furious about the new policies.

Twitch apologized for the rollout, explaining that it would rewrite the rules for greater clarity. Now it seems that rewrite has turned into a full rescinding of the rules totally. From the company’s Twitter thread:

“Yesterday, we released new Branded Content Guidelines that impacted your ability to work with sponsors to increase your income from streaming. These guidelines are bad for you and bad for Twitch, and we are removing them immediately. Sponsorships are critical to streamers; growth and ability to earn income. We will not prevent your ability to enter into direct relationships with sponsors – you will continue to own and control your sponsorship business. We want to work with our community to create the best experience on Twitch, and to do that we need to be clear about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We appreciate your feedback and help in making this change.”

TechCrunch reported that many creators viewed Twitch’s sudden changes to the branded content guidelines as a way for the company, which is owned by Amazon, to further insert itself between streamers and their sponsors.

Twitch takes a 50 percent cut of creator earnings, through its standard revenue sharing agreement, but it isn’t able to get a piece of the lucrative deals that streamers negotiate with sponsors and advertisers. Because the economics of streaming aren’t actually that favorable to creators, most serious streamers rely on ads and sponsors to fill that monetization gap.

Streamers regularly display “burned in” ads – advertising displayed directly onto streams, whether through display banners, video commercials, or audio. The changes Twitch announced Tuesday would have prohibited all of those ads, with the exception of relatively tiny display ads that take up less than three percent of the screen.

Ars Technica reported that individual streamers aren’t the only ones set to be affected by this move, either. Events like The Streamer Awards, and major esports tournaments often prominently feature sponsor logos or banner ads as a way to earn money without interrupting the broadcast. Charity streams like Games Done Quick also use prominently branded ad overlays to help pay for the high costs of putting on the event,

According to Ars Technica, competing platforms have gotten in on the backlash, too, with upstart offering to pay the $24 minimum “maintenance fee” that Twitch has long charged official affiliates and partners who terminate their agreements with Twitch.

Overall, I think that Twitch really made a huge mistake when they changed their ad rules. Twitch did attempt to roll that back after it became very clear that they had made a bad decision. I cannot help but wonder how many big streamers got fed up and left Twitch in favor of a platform that won’t screw them over.